International Peace Light Comes to Swarthmore
An ancient flame, a symbol of peace and hope, is coming to Swarthmore. The journey begins in Bethlehem, in a rock grotto believed to be the location of Jesus’ birth. For over a thousand years the faithful have tended olive oil lamps, praying for peace, wholeness, and giving thanks for God coming close in the midst of struggle. Each year, a child descends to these lamps in the basement of the Church of the Nativity and lights a lantern. The flame is known as the Peace Light, and is flown in a special airplane safe lantern to Vienna Austria. The Peace Light is shared with delegations from across Europe and the Americas, along with a message of Peace. Scouting organizations take the light to houses of worship, hospitals, food banks, nursing homes, and locations where peace is being prayed for and pursued. With the help of Austrian Airlines, a delegation transports the Peace Light to New York, JFK International Airport, and a network of volunteers spread it across North and South America.
Feeling a deep need for peace and friendship in these difficult times, Swarthmore Presbyterian Church (SPC) and Boy Scout Troop 112 are hosting the Peace Light this year in Swarthmore. A brief prayer service for peace will be held on Sunday, December 3rd at 5:00 PM in front of Swarthmore Presbyterian Church on their Harvard Avenue lawn (alternatively in the sanctuary in case of rain). As the Scouts bring the flame, it will be met by the pastors of Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, along with Asheq Fazlullah, the Director of the Leadership Institute of Interfaith Philadelphia, who serves as the Muslim Student Affiliate Advisor with the Interfaith Center at Swarthmore College, and Jewish community leadership. They will lead the community in readings, prayers, and music from all three traditions. The Peace Light will be shared with all those present, and anyone who wishes to take it with them is encouraged to bring a travel safe candle or lantern. Community and faith leaders are warmly welcomed to be part of this service of peace and to bring the flame back to their communities.
The Peace Light will be available at SPC through Epiphany, January 6, 2024. Lanterns will be burning on the front steps of SPC for any and all who wish to come and get light from it to spread it to their homes, neighbors, friends, and anywhere they wish to seek peace, or recognize others working for peace. To learn more, or to ask questions about collecting the light, contact Rev. David Norse Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the SPC church office (email@example.com).